Beyond Look and Feel--The New Role That User Experience Plays in Business Applications and Process Innovation
Beyond Look and Feel--The New Role That User Experience
Plays in Business Applications and Process Innovation
Transcript of a BrieﬁngsDirect discussion on the heightened role and impact of total user
experience for both online, mobile and existing apps.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app for iOS or Android.
Sponsor: Ariba, an SAP Company
Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions and you’re
listening to BrieﬁngsDirect.
Our business innovation thought leadership discussion today focuses on the
heightened role and impact of total user experience improvements for both online
and mobile applications and services.
We'll explore how user expectations and rethinking of business productivity are
having a profound impact on how business applications are used, designed, and
leveraged to help buyers, sellers, and employees do their jobs better.
We’ll hear about the advantages of new advances in bringing instant collaboration, actionable
analytics, and contextual support capabilities into the application interface to create a total user
To learn more about why applications must have more than a pretty face to improve the modern
user experience, we're joined by Chris Haydon, Senior Vice President of Solutions Management
for Procurement, Finance and Network at Ariba, an SAP company. Welcome, Chris.
Chris Haydon: Thanks, Dana. Nice to be here.
Gardner: Chris, what sort of conﬂuence of factors has come together to make this concept of
user experience so important, so powerful? What has changed, and
why must we think more about experience than interface?
Haydon: Dana, it’s a great question. There is a conﬂuence of
factors, as you say. There is the movement of hyper-collaboration, and things are moving faster
and faster than ever before.
We're seeing major shifts in trends on how users view themselves and how they want to interact
with their application, their business applications in particular, and more and more, drawing
parallels from their consumer and how they bring that simple consumer-based experience into
their daily work. Those are some of the mega trends.
Then, as we step down a little bit, within that is obviously this collaboration aspect and how
people prefer to collaborate online at work more than they did in traditional mechanisms,
certainly via phone or fax.
Then, there's mobility. If someone doesn’t really have a smartphone in this day
and age, certainly they're behind the eight ball.
Last but not least, there's the changing demographic of our workforce. In 2015,
there are some stats out there that showed that millennials will become the single
largest percentage of the workforce.
All of these macro trends and ﬁgures are going into how we need to think about our total user
experience in our applications.
Gardner: For those of us who have been using applications for years and years and have sort
of bopped around -- whether we're on a mobile device or a PC -- from application to application,
are we just integrating apps so that we don't have to change apps, or is it something more? Is this
a whole greater than the existing sum of the parts in some fashion?
Haydon: It’s certainly something more. It’s more the one plus one equals three concept here.
The intersection of the connectivity powered by business networks, as well as the utility of
mobile devices not tied to your desktop can fundamentally change the way people think about
their interactions and think about the business processes and how they think about the work that
needs to be done throughout the course of their work environment. That really is the difference.
This is not about just tweaking up as you open up a user interface. This is really about thinking
about personal-based interactions in the context of mobility in a network-oriented or network-
Gardner: When we think about collaboration, traditionally that’s been among people, but it
seems to me that this heightened total user experience means we're actually collaborating
increasingly with services. They could be services that recognize that we're at a particular
juncture in a business process. They could be services that recognize that we might need help or
support in a situation where we've run out of runway and don't know what to do, or even
instances where intelligence and analytics are being brought to us as we need it, rather than our
calling out to it.
Tell me about this expanding deﬁnition of collaboration. Am I right that we're collaborating with
more than just other people here?
Haydon: That’s right. It’s putting information in the context of the business process right at the
point of demand. Whether that’s predictive, intelligence, third party, or smart, the best user
interfaces and the best total user experiences are bringing that context to the end user managing
that complexity, but contextualizing it to bring it to their attention as they work through it.
So whether that’s a budget check and whether there is some gaming on budget, it's saying,
"You're under budget; that’s great." That’s an internal metric. Maybe in the future, you start
thinking about how others are performing in other segments of the business. If you want to take
it even further, how are other potential suppliers doing on their response rate to their customers?
There is a whole new dimension on giving people contextualized information at the point where
they need to make a decision, or even recommending the type of decisions they need to make. It
could be from third-party sources that can come from a business network outside your ﬁrewall,
or from smarter analysis and predictive analysis, from the transactions that are happening within
the four walls of your ﬁrewall, or in your current application or your other business applications.
Gardner: It seems pretty clear that this is the way things are going. The logic behind why the
user experience has expanded in its power and its utility makes perfect sense. I'm really enthused
about this notion of contextual intelligence being brought to a business process, but it's more
than just a vision here.
Pulling this off must be quite difﬁcult. I know that many people have been thinking about doing
this, but there just isn't that much of it actually going on yet. So we're at the vanguard.
What are the problems? What are the challenges that it takes to pull this off to make it happen? It
seems to me there are a lot back-end services, and while we focus on the user experience and
user interface, we're really talking about sophisticated technology in the data center providing
Cloud as enabler
Haydon: There are a couple of enablers to this. I think the number one enabler here is cloud
versus on-premise. When you can see the behavior in real time in a community aspect, you can
actually build infrastructure services around that. In traditional on-premise models, when that’s
locked in, all that burden is actually being pushed back to the corporate IT to be able to do that.
The second point is when you're in the cloud and you think about applications that are network
aware, you're able to bring in third-party, validated, trusted information to help make that
difference. So there are those challenges.
I also think that it comes down to technology, but technology is moving to the focus of building
applications actually for the end user. When you start thinking about the interactions with the end
user and the focus on them, it really drives you to think about how you give that different
When you can have that level of granularity in saying, "I'm logging on as an invoicing
processing assistant" or "I'm logging on as just a casual ad-hoc requisitioner," when the system
knows you have done that, it’s actually able to be smart and pick up and contextualize that.
That’s where we really see the future and the vision of how this is all coming together.
Gardner: When we spoke a while back about the traditional way that people got productivity
was switching manually from application to application -- whether that’s an on-premise
application or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) based application -- if they are losing the beneﬁt of
a common back-end intelligence capability or network services that are aware or access an
identity management that’s coordinated, we still don't get that total user experience, even though
the cloud is an important factor here and SaaS is a big part of it.
What brings together the best of cloud, but also the best of that coordinated, integrated total
experience when you know the user and all of their policies and information can be brought to
bear on this experience and productivity demand?
Haydon: There are a couple of ways of doing that. You could talk here about the concept of
hybrid. The reality is that in most companies for the foreseeable future there will be some degree
of on-premise applications that continue to drive businesses, and then there will be side-by-side
So it’s the job of leading practice technology providers, SaaS and on-premise providers, to
enable that to happen. There deﬁnitely is this notion of having a very robust platform that
underpins the cloud product and can be seamlessly integrated to the on-premise product.
Again, from a technology and a trend perspective, that’s where it’s going. So if the provider
doesn’t have a solid platform approach to be able to link the disparate cloud services to disparate
on-premise solutions, then you can’t give that full context to the end user.
One thing too is thinking about the user interface. The user interface manages that complexity for
the end user. The end user really shouldn't need to know the mode of deployment, nor should
they need to know really where they're at. That’s what the new leading user interfaces and what
the total experience is about, to take you guided through your workﬂow or your work that needs
to be done irrespective of the deployment location of that service.
Gardner: Chris, we spoke last at Ariba Live, the user conference back in the springtime and
you were describing the roadmap for Ariba and other applications coming through 2015 into
What’s been happening recently? This week, I think, you've gone general availability with some
of these services. Maybe you could quickly describe that. Are we talking about the on-premise
apps, the SaaS apps, the mobile apps, all the above? What’s happening?
Haydon: We're really excited about that. For our current releases that came out this week, we
launched our total user experience approach, where we have working anywhere, embracing the
most modern user design interactions into our user interface, mobility, and also within that, and
how we can enable our end users to learn the processes and context. All this has been launched in
Ariba within the last 14 days.
Speciﬁcally, it’s about embracing modern user design principles. We have a great design
principle here within SAP called Fiori. So we've taken that design principle and brought that into
the world of procurement to put on top of our leading-practice capabilities today and we're
bringing this new updated user experience design.
But we haven’t stopped there. We're embracing, as you mentioned, this mobility aspect and how
can we design new interactions between our common user interface on our mobile and a
common user interface on our cloud deployment as one. That’s a given, but what we are doing
differently here is embracing the power and the capability of mobile devices with cloud and the
work that needs to be done.
One idea of that is how we have a process continuity feature, where you can look on your mobile
application, have a look at some activities that you might want to track later on. You can click or
pin that activity on your mobile device and when you come to your desktop to do some work,
that pinning activity is visible for you to go on tracking and get your job done.
Similarly, if you're on the go to go and have a meeting, you're able to push some reports down to
your mobile tablet or your smartphone to be able to look and review that work on the go.
We're really looking at that full, total user experience, whether you're on the desktop or whether
you are on the go on your mobile device, all underpinned by a common user design imperative
based upon Fiori.
Gardner: Just to be clear, we're talking about not only this capability across those network
services for on-prem, cloud, and mobile, but we're taking this across more than a handful of
apps. Tell us a bit about how these Ariba applications and the Ariba Network also involve other
travel and expense capabilities. What other apps are involved in terms of line-of-business
platform that SAP is providing?
Haydon: From a procurement perspective, obviously we have Ariba’s leading practice
procurement. As context, we have another fantastic solution for contingent labor, statement-of-
work labor and other services, and that’s called Fieldglass. We've been working closely with the
Fieldglass team to ensure that our user interface that we are rolling out on our Ariba procurement
applications is consistent with Fieldglass, and it’s based again on the Fiori style of design
We're moving towards where an end user, whether they want to interact to do detailed time
sheets or service entry, or they want to do requisitioning for powerful materials and inventory, on
the Ariba side ﬁnd a seamless experience.
We're progressively moving forward to that same style of construct for the Concur applications
for our travel and expense, and even the larger SAP, cloud and S4/HANA approaches as well.
Gardner: You mentioned SAP HANA. Tell us how we're not only dealing with this user
experience across devices, work modes, and across application types, but now we have a core
platform approach that allows for those analytics to leverage and exploit the data that's available,
depending on the type of applications any speciﬁc organization is using.
It strikes me that we have a possibility of a virtuous adoption cycle; that is to say, the more data
used in conjunction with more apps begets more data, begets more insights, begets more
productivity. How is HANA and analytics coming to bear on this?
Haydon: We've had HANA running on analytics on the Ariba side for more than 12 months now.
The most important thing that we see with HANA is that it's not about HANA in itself. It's a
wonderful technology, but what we are really seeing is that the customer interactions change
because they're actually able to do different and faster types of iterations.
To us, that's the real power of what HANA gives us from a technology and platform aspect to
build on. When you can have real time analytics across massive amounts of information put into
the context of what an end user does, that to us is where the true business and customer and end-
user beneﬁt will come from leveraging the HANA technology.
So we have it running in our analytics stack, progressively moving that through the rest of our
analytics on the Ariba platform. Quite honestly, the sky's the limit as it relates to what that
technology can enable us to do. The main focus though is how we give different business
interactions, and HANA is just a great engine that enables us to do that.
Gardner: It's a fascinating time if you're a developer, because previously, you had to go through
a requirements process with the users, but using these analytics you can measure and see what
those users are actually doing, or progressing and modernizing their processes, and then take that
analytics capability back into the next iteration of the application.
So it's interesting that we're talking about total user experience. We could be talking about total
developer experience, or even total IT operator experience when it comes to delivering security
and compliance. Expand a little bit about how what you are doing on that user side actually
beneﬁts the entire life cycle of these applications.
Haydon: It's really exciting. There are other great companies that do this, and SAP is really
investing in this as well as Ariba, making sure we're really a data-driven, real-time, thinking
And you're right. In the simplest way, we're rolling out our total user experience in the simplest
model. We're providing a toggle, meaning we're enabling our end users to road test the user
experience and then switch back. We don't think anyone will want to switch back, but it's great.
That's the same type of experience that you experience in your personal life. When someone is
trialing a new feature on an e-marketplace or in a consumer store, you're able to try this
experience and come back. What's great about that is we're getting real-time insight. We know
which customers are doing this. We know which personas are doing this. We know how long
they are doing this for their session time.
We're able to bring that back to our developers, to our product managers, to our user design
center experts, and just as importantly, back to our customers and also back to our partners to be
able to say, "There is some info, doing these types of things, they are not on this page. They have
been looking for this type of information when they do a query or request."
These types of information we're feeding into our roadmap, but we are also feeding back into our
customers so they understand how their employees are working with our applications. As we step
forward, we're exposing this in the right way to our partners to help them potentially build
applications on top of what we already have on the Ariba platform.
Gardner: So obviously you can look this in the face at the general level of productivity, but now
we can get speciﬁc with partners into verticals, geographies, all the details that come along with
business applications, company to company, region to region.
Let’s think about how this comes to market. You've announced the general availability on Ariba,
and because this is SaaS, there are no forklifts, there are no downloads, no install, and no worries
about conﬁguration data. Tell us how this rolls out and how people can experience it if they've
become intrigued about this concept of total user experience. How easy is it for them to then now
start taking part in it?
Haydon: First and foremost, and it’s important, our customers entrust their business processes to
us, and so it's about zero business disruption, and no downtime is our number one goal.
When we rolled out our global network release to a 1.8 million suppliers two weeks ago, we had
zero downtime on the world’s largest business network. Similarly, as we rolled out our total user
experience, zero downtime as well. So that’s the ﬁrst thing. The number one thing is about
The second thing really is a concept that we think about. It’s called agile adoption. This is again
how we let end users and companies of end users adopt our solutions.
We have done an awful lot of work, before go live, on educating our customers, providing
frequently asked questions, where required, training materials and updates, all those types of
support aspects. But we really believe our work starts day plus one, not day minus one.
How are we working with our customers after this is turned on by monitoring, to know exactly
what they are doing, giving them proactive support and communications, when we need to, when
we see them either switching back or we have a distribution of a speciﬁc customer group or end
user group within their company? We'll be actively monitoring them and pushing that forward.
That’s what we really think it’s about. We're taking this end user customer-centric view to roll
out our applications, but letting our own customers ﬁnd their own pathways.
Gardner: We're coming toward the end of our allotted time, but I want to see if quickly we
could illustrate the power of the total user experience beneﬁts. Do you have any examples or use
cases that come to mind. I don’t know whether you can name the organizations or not, where
they have gone to that total user experience, they have jumped into the deep end of the pool, if
you will, and are now getting something back in return. Is there any way that we can illustrate
what happens when you do this correctly?
Haydon: We've just launched. Let me talk about two things. It’s amazing where we started from.
It’s a little bit of human behavior, when we talk about we're rolling out this new user experience.
It's about how do I test this and how do I make sure my training material is up to date? When we
have been taking all of our customers through it, there is a massive positive response. That's from
even some of our most conservative customers, whether they are in highly-regulated industries or
When you actually take them through how we're doing agile adoption, how this is linked, to
actually how we interact in our own personal lives, you can see the light bulbs going on. So it’s
early in our journey. We will be monitoring how many people are turning on.
But if I can back up, I know when we deployed our mobile applications, which is also part of this
user experience, we deployed our ﬁrst mobile solution in the ﬁrst half of this year. We're
updating that in conjunction with our user experience update this month.
What we saw was that within a month, we had 25 percent of our customers already activating
this mobile solution, and they did that themselves. I think that’s the power. The pent-up demand
is there, and they can consume the capability of this user experience by themselves. That’s the
power of the cloud. That’s the power of a really powerful user experience, when people are
actually self-enabling rather than, if you like, the service provider pushing.
Gardner: Before we close out, Chris, if users speciﬁcally are intrigued by this, want to go
more mobile in how they do their business processes, want to get those reports and analytics
delivered to them in the context of their activity, is there an organic path for them or they have to
wait for their IT department?
What do you recommend for people that maybe don’t even have Ariba in their organization?
What are some steps they can take to either learn more or from a grassroots perspective
encourage adoption of this business revolution really around total user experience emphasis?
Haydon: We have plenty of material from an Ariba perspective, not just about our solutions, but
exactly what you're mentioning, Dana, about what is going on there. My ﬁrst recommendation to
everyone would be to educate yourselves and have a look at your business -- how many
millennials are in your business, what are the new working paradigms that need to happen from a
mobile approach -- and go and embrace it.
The second lesson is that if businesses think that this is not already happening outside of the
control of their IT departments, they're probably mistaken. These things are already going on. So
I think those are the kind of macro things to go and have a look at.
But, of course, we have a lot more information about Ariba’s total user experience thinking on
thought leadership and then how we go about and implement that in our solutions for our
customers, and I would just encourage anyone to go and have a look at ariba.com. You'll be able
to see more about our total user experience, and like I said, some of the leading practice thoughts
that we have about implementations.
Gardner: Very good. I'd also encourage people to listen or read the conversation you and I had
just a month or two ago about the roadmap. We won’t go there today about what comes next, but
there's an awful lot in the hamper that you're working on that people will be able to exploit
further. So I encourage people to look that up.
But I'm afraid we will have to leave it there. You've been listening to a sponsored BrieﬁngsDirect
podcast discussion on the heightened role and impact of total user experience for both online,
mobile and existing apps.
We've heard how SAP and Ariba are advancing the beneﬁts of bringing instant collaboration and
actionable analytics and contextual support capabilities directly into the application interface and
Pease join me now in thanking our guest as we have gone through these issues. We've been here
with Chris Haydon, Senior Vice President of Solutions Management for Procurement, Finance
and Network at Ariba, an SAP company. Thanks, Chris.
Haydon: Thanks, Dana.
Gardner: And a big thank you too to our audience for joining this business innovation thought
leadership discussion focused on a rethinking of business productivity via improved user
applications and user experience.
I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this
latest BrieﬁngsDirect thought leadership discussion. Thanks again for listening, and do come
back next time.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app for iOS or Android.
Sponsor: Ariba, an SAP Company
Transcript of a BrieﬁngsDirect discussion on on the heightened role and impact of total user
experience for both online, mobile and existing apps. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC,
2005-2015. All rights reserved.
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